Sales Director North America, Lohmann Steel
Today we are very pleased to present to you an interview with a fellow we have known for many years, Mr. Marco Möser of Lohmann Steel. Marco you and I have been crossing paths for many years both in North America and Europe. Perhaps to start off today you could give us a summary about your background in the heat treatment industry.
“Well, I started as a Sales representative in 1997 working for AFE Technologies ( Now Cronite) in Benelux and Poland. Serving the dutch speaking customers and due to my travels to eastern Europe also several Polish customers. I worked my way up to Sales Manager and my territory was expanded with East / North Germany and Denmark. I also supported Thierry Pereira (Global Sales. Director) on several large project, mostly in Europe/ East Europe as he was busy with expanding in Asia. In 2009 I was Transferred to USA, became President of North American Cronite, to support the newly build foundry in MX and set up a sales Team. I left Cronite at the end of 2015 and in the years before I have worked with a large number of customers, furnace builders and automation suppliers on various large projects globally with great success and learned a lot about the transition in the heat treat industry which was going on and made a lot of friends in the industry.”
“After that I joined Alcon and worked very close with Richard Chalet, one of the nicest guys I ever met. Unfortunately, did he pass away after being 2 years in a transitioning project of Alcon. The company was not the same anymore without him but I look back with great pleasure about the things we have realized in the period I was there.”
“In 2019 I joined Wirco as V.P Foundry Division and used my experience to help them to put their foundry back on track after the fire and support them where needed in their management Team.”
“In the fall of 2021 I had to stop and I took a large time off to reflect and think about my future.”
“So in a period of almost 25 years I have gained a lot of knowledge, experience, friends in the heat treat industry from smaller heat treat shops to fully automated transmission plants and everything in between.”
January of this year it was announced that you had just been appointed Sales Director North America for Lohmann Steel, a Germany foundry producing high temperature castings for the heat treatment industry-how did this come about?
“After a period of almost 9 month taking a break and reflecting the past years I came to the conclusion that I wanted to spend the rest of my career doing what I like and what I enjoy the most. Talking and visiting customers and helping them to solve the issues and problems which occur in the always changing HT Market. I got in contact with Lohmann, Thorsten Kutsch which I knew for years and in a later stadium also the owners of Lohmann who knew me already for years. Lohmann was interested to expand but failed to find the right person with knowledge and contact on the north American market. I was interested to work with a modern, professional and well established / balanced Alloy supplier from Europe. So after a couple talk and a meeting we made a long term agreement which will satisfy both parties.”
While I certainly know of Lohmann I have to confess I don’t know a great deal about the company. Could you give us some background on the company such as size, experience and heat treatment products?
“Lohmann is a seventh-generation family business founded in 1790 by Johann Friedrich Lohmann. The company has two locations in Witten, Germany. Witten is located in the middle of Germany near Düsseldorf. The company employs approximately 350 people at both locations. The Witten-Herbede site operates a steel mill with forge and rolling mill and produces tool steels. The Witten-Annen site primarily produces heat-resistant castings for heat treatment plants. Furthermore, wear-resistant components for shot-blasting equipment and corrosion-resistant components for the food and chemical industries are manufactured.”
“Lohmann has been in existence for more than 230 years and has a great deal of experience in the field of steel production. Our strengths are especially in the field of heat resistant steels for all applications in heat treatment.”
“It goes without saying that our quality management is certified according to EN ISO 9001.”
“In addition, we also have an environmental management system according to DIN EN ISO 14001 and an energy management system according to DIN EN ISO 50001.”
Traditionally North American foundries have had little success selling their products into the European market and visa versa which leads me to my next question; has Lohman done much business in North America?
“Lohmann has traditionally focused on the European market. In this respect, I can agree with you about the presence of the individual foundries on other continents. However, we have always been active worldwide, which includes both America and Asia. We already deliver to the USA, but Lohmann’s market share is expandable. We will work on this in the future here in the USA and Mexico and become market player in North America.”
In which products are you most successful? Fixturing? Radiant Tubes? Fans?
“Basically, Lohmann manufactures all components for heat treatment. These can be castings as well as components made of semi-finished products as welded composite structures. However, our strengths clearly lie in castings. We manufacture baskets, base trays, fixtures, pit furnace fixtures, cast link belts, furnace rollers, radiant heating tubes and furnace parts such as rollers or fans. We are particularly strong when it comes to individually designed fixtures and for pit furnace fixtures and cast link belts.”
The last question leads directly into this one, what advantages does Lohman have that suggests you will be successful in becoming a supplier of note in the North American market?
“Lohmann has an enormously high level of experience and an excellent design department as well as state-of-the-art production facilities. We can meet all the requirements of the heat treatment industry and map almost all processes in-house. The customer gives us a task and we develop a concept and design, including materials consulting, FEM calculation, casting simulation, molding, casting, fettling, machining, after sales, scrap recycling and much more – all from one source. From prototype to pre-series to series production, we produce the components ourselves “Made by Lohmann in Germany”.”
Foundries have not changed much over the years-or have they? I know you are very proud of your new production facilities, what differences/improvements are end users liable to see that they might not have seen a few years ago?
“Our new production line “Modulcast” is an absolutely unique feature. The line is far above the standard of the foundry industry and exists only once in the world. Particularly noteworthy is the automation and resource efficiency. We mold and cast fully automatically and record every process step and production parameter. Resource efficiency includes energy consumption as well as material consumption and space requirements. The Modulcast production line also sets standards in terms of ergonomics, occupational safety and environmental protection. We could conduct a separate interview for the details. However, we are not only proud of our high technical standard but also of the fact that we are the first CO2-neutral foundry according to the GHG protocol in Germany and probably also in Europe. In Europe this topic is gaining more and more importance and probably the rest of the world will slowly develop in this direction as well. But that is also a separate topic which would go beyond the scope of this interview.”
Have Asian foundries gained much market share in either Europe or North America? Do you regard them as major competitors?
“Traders with an Asian supply background always try to penetrate an existing market. In most cases, this is done exclusively on the basis of price. The established foundries, including Lohmann, have to face the competition and offer added value through design, quality, know-how, innovation, reliability and service. We notice this especially when the projects become more complex and a good concept and design is required.”
What sort of changes do you see on the horizon when it comes to alloy components and fixturing?
“I think that we will see more and more customers of the heat-treat companies and in house heat treaters to go to dedicated fixtures for the guarantee of continuous quality of the heat treated parts. The quality requirements of the heat treated parts will keep increasing and scrap will need to be eliminated as much as possible. A process which is already going on for over a decade but will be intensified even more to also the lower end of the market. I also think we will see that there will be a big change in the way companies will do business, respect – appreciation and commitment for a long-term partnership will be key words and as we have seen in the last year with the delivery shortage.”
“Also are market prices for raw materials such as nickel are very volatile. Especially the price explosion of the last months and the crash at the LME have shown how difficult it is to make a prediction about the situation in the next month’s / year ahead. In addition, there are effects related to the war in Ukraine which makes it impossible to make a prediction to where the market is going.”